From tomorrow, visitors to Hong Kong who test negative will no longer need an amber health code and can enter restaurants and other premises previously off limits to them.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong will finally be scrapping its amber health code from Wednesday, effectively lifting all travel restrictions for arrivals into the city who test negative. This decision will remove a key source of frustration for travellers, who have hitherto been subject to curbs during their first three days of stay.
Hong Kong chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu announced the new measures today, adding that residents would also not need to scan QR codes with their ‘Leave Home Safe’ app to record visits to premises. However, visitors to restaurants and designated venues will still need to present their vaccination records. Commenting on the decision, John Lee Ka-chiu said: “The decisions were based on data and risks. The infection risk from imported cases is lower than the risk from local infections. We believe that the lifting of the measures will not increase the risk of local outbreaks.”
Hong Kong is now effectively adopting the ‘0+0’ regime, whereby all inbound travellers who test negative will be given a blue code on their health app and can move about the city freely. However, those who test positive will still get a red health code and have to follow the usual isolation protocols. Arrivals will still need to take a PCR test at the airport and on their third day in the city, and a rapid antigen test for five days.
Asked if Hong Kong’s border with mainland China could also be reopened before the Lunar New Year on 22nd January, John stated that his government had been active in negotiating with central authorities on the matter: “Our goal is to allow normal cross-border travel as soon as possible, but we can only progress in accordance with the actual situation. We all know the epidemic situation, the number of infected cases on the mainland.”
He added he was “very supportive” of any measure adopted by mainland authorities to contain the coronavirus: “I will cooperate to make sure that these policies can reach the expected results, so that there can be favourable arrangements on border reopening.”
He also said mainland authorities, including those in Guangdong and Shenzhen, had attached considerable importance to the reopening of the border with Hong Kong, and had adopted policies to improve the supply of food and other goods from the mainland.
Sadly, it is unlikely that this latest move comes in time for visitors from the international toy community to make last-minute arrangements to visit the territory in January. However, those who had already committed to making the trip will be relieved that a major layer of complication has been removed.